A different kind of strategy

By giving your vote to Sobchak, you are voting for Putin, by casting your vote for Grudinin, you are voting for Putin, by giving your vote to Yavlinsky, you are voting for Putin, even when you are destroying the voting ballot itself you are still voting for Putin, and by not voting at all – you still are voting for Putin as well. This is the current tone of discussions about the upcoming elections that are taking place at this moment in various social networks. It is apparent to all folks that even getting through to the second round is not possible, as well as the fact that the forthcoming elections themselves are not proper elections, but rather a night hockey league game, access to participate in which is only granted to either the players of the sitting President’s team, or to those ones who are overtly powerless.

In other words, let us speak honestly: there are no elections going on, however, even those people who do realize that there are none are continuing to design their political strategy around these nonexistent elections. Even AlekseiNavalny by his declaration of an “electoral strike,” is still operating within by the rules of the game that have been imposed on him – by placing the focus of his attention on the presidential elections exclusively, although with perhaps some negativity.

It is quite apparent that the framework of the boycott of governing group that was suggested by Navalny is not facing any legal consequences whatsoever since God only knows for how many years on end now there has not even been a threshold of attendance established. Thus, the produced effect of this campaign even if it would have happened to unravel vividly (and that possibility in itself is causing quite a few doubts, but we shall dwell on that later), it still would only occur so in the Public Relations realm. Navalny will be able to re-assign each and every lazy cookie pusher, who prefers to sip beer on his couch to going to the voting stations to cast his vote as his own follower. And, one would think in principle that comrade Kirienko (First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office – edit., Free Russia) would have found himself in some sort of a predicament, and, perhaps, would not be able to hold on to his position since he would have failed to secure the guaranteed sacred formula ratio of 70-70.

As far as Putin’s presidential term is concerned it has nothing that presents any threat to it whatsoever in this scenario: he has not been kept in his position due to the fact that he was not perceived as an Akela of his kind because he has not missed his target prey thus far, but rather because he is convenient for everyone with the said formula ratio of 70-70, or with the formula ratio of 60-60. The PR effect at its best would have lasted for a couple of weeks if even that long, and as a result once again the most advanced forces in the country would have gotten a feeling of being stuck somewhere in the blind alley. That is due to the fact that Navalny’s team does not have any contingency plan on what to do next after the strike.

One can ram his head against the locked gates, so craftily built by Putin, repeatedly and to no avail, one can feed the bees in the bonnet of his administration (in here I am referring to the wishful thinking of having a high rate attendance turnout), but instead of storming a wall that could not be taken down one can try to shake down the very foundation that it is standing upon. And there are three keystones that are at the base of the foundation of this authoritarian regime fortress:

1) The passive behavior of the citizens and their reluctance to assume the responsibility for the governance of their own lives and their own country;

2) The lack of a substantial number of political leaders available, the independent political actors in the multi-million country that is spreading throughout thousands of kilometers of land;

3) The lack of fundamental trust in politicians.

That is exactly where that rooted point is located, the one from which the very vertical power system of governance stems from, the one that Vladimir Putin sits on like a throne as if it were the tree of the world, and where nobody else is allowed to approach anywhere nearby, not even the charismatic Aleksei Navalny.

The idea of not taking part in elections not only does not resolve the fundamental problems of our society, but it even aggravates them in some parts. Everyone who canvassed door to door during the election campaign knows that the major foes of the opposition candidates are not supporters of United Russia party, but those very citizens who do not have any faith in the elections. A long time ago we came up with the answer for them. In certain instances, we even manage to sway their position. However, yet one more call for declaring a boycott will only re-assure them in the rightfulness of their original point of view that was held by them all along: nothing depends on us.

Well, it is not quite possible to create a truly captivating and persuasive campaign that would be based on a negative agenda: people have grown weary of fighting ghosts on a non-stop basis. Those people who are active all around are feeling terribly antsy to start creating. I witness that in every conversation when I communicate with both public officials and common activists.

In the meantime, there are approximately 30 elections that are being held every month across the country in Russia. In other words, (if we do not take into consideration the fact that they only happen on Sundays) there is one election per every day happening at the average rate. There are deputies of local councils, heads of village councils, and heads of municipal districts, and so on and so forth, that are being voted for in elections. Tens of thousands of people run for these positions every year. Who are these people? Are there any opposition representatives in their midst?

Regrettably so, in most instances, this is not the case. Lev Shlosberg was the only one who succeeded in organizing the work of his team in the Pskov region in such a fashion that hundreds of the members of the opposition are taking part in it there, and dozens of them win in the local elections. As far as the other localities go, well, in there the corrupt “United Russia” corrupt red tape officials come to power. Those are even duller and bleaker in their character than Vladimir Vladimirovich.

And it is exactly these people who are weaving the fundamental fabric of every single day injustice and the lack of freedom that everyone is confronted with. It is exactly these people who are performing those most governmental functions that are vitally close to every single person. And, therefore they are the most important governing power functions. It is exactly them whose governance is based not on the rule of law, or common sense, and the needs of the citizens, but it is rather based on the point of view and the needs of that very vertical power of authoritarianism, which they carry on their well-nurtured shoulders. It is exactly them, who build the atmosphere of hopelessness and instigate a passive mode that is so advantageous to those who sit at the very top of this vertical power system of governance.

What kind of actions could have Navalny undertaken? (Forgive me to give him any piece of advice, I am just pointing at some different kinds of options to him in here). To speak: friends, let us stop worrying about this Mr. Putin as if he were some kind of a unique piece of rare beautiful artistry. Let us take a look around, let us transform ourselves from the volunteers into politicians, and let us go and cease power where ever we can do so, go there where they would not be able to block us with their heavy artillery, simply because there is not going to be nearly enough of said heavy artillery in their procession to stop us all. Let us stop glaring up at the palaces and turn our eyes to the shacks.

That is because only through some personal communications, through everyday assistance, through common actions the trust is being built. It is only by coming out victorious that one can gain the experience of winning. It is only by gaining governing practical experience (and Ilya Yashin is a bright testament to it) that one can learn how to govern. And it is not just one single leader but rather tens of thousands of them, who would be able to drag passive millions out of their swamp. And it is through this way only that one can shake the foundations of the vertical power system of governance in such a fashion that it would simply tumble down. And it is exactly then when the time will come when you will not have to take it down either by a storm or to boycott it. All you would have to do is simply to ignore it.

There is such a parable: a seller of the fighting cocks is singing high praises to his commodities at the market, claiming that his cocks are fighting to their deaths.

“I would rather that you sold me some better cocks than these ones,” – the buyer says to the seller – “You know, sell me the kind of cocks that would fight until they win.”

And what shall one do during these presidential elections? – Well, everything and anything, really. That is all because there are no decisions that are being made during them.

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